Round Eighteen: The Mouth

Christer Karlstad vs. Ana Teresa Barboza

I chose to connect these images for these reasons:

Both pieces have a central focus on a mouth behaving in an unusual manner.

Both pieces have a strong, red colour palate to the right of the image.

The combination of woman and animal.

christer karlstad 1

What I like about the first image (Karlstad):

I find this image really amazing. The quality of painting is exquisite and the subject matter is refreshing in its unusualness. Coming out of the woman’s mouth are two birds – one is trapped between her lips and the other flies close to the bird, meeting at their own mouths (beaks). It looks as if the second bird is trying to retrieve its helpless friend while the woman looks down, watching, but offering no help. Is she holding the bird tight or is she perfectly happy to let it go? I read the woman as helpless herself, connected to the helpless bird as both have their arms/wings obscured. It is almost as if she is paralyzed, witnessing her situation but unable to act either way. The helpless nature is juxtaposed with the wide, open wings of the active bird. In this sense the image is cleverly connected, offering cohesion between characters as well as highlighting the balance between freedom and restriction. I am not entirely sure what Karlstad is trying to communicate through this piece, but it’s beauty and unique nature makes me love it.


What I like about the second image (Barboza):

This is another striking image that grabs your attention for its similarly unusual subject matter. Here the roles are reversed and it is animal positioned on the right whose mouth we are focused on. The lion, which is actually embroidered, opens its mouth to consume our peaceful, sleeping woman. We observes the scene at an ideal moment where there is a strong beauty created through the balance of life and death. Soon, the woman will be destroyed, and it is her complete oblivion to this that mellows the whole energy of the piece. I find that the more I look at the image the more dreamy and peaceful it becomes. Perhaps Barboza is simply expressing the frailty of life, or maybe she is juxtaposing the nature of humans with animals, or women with men. Whatever the reason, this image is one that will sit differently with each viewer. For me, I see beauty and reflection, a ferocious scene frozen in time, forever lingering. Plus, I am pretty impressed by the embroidery and love the juxtaposition between mediums. Nice work.


Both images are pretty cool for being so different and perplexing, but I think Karlstad takes the cake for me today. The quality of the work and the essence created really appeals to my aesthetic. Plus, the fact that I still don’t know exactly what is going on keeps me intrigued, and who doesn’t love killer hair like that?

Do you agree? Let me know which piece you would crown winner.

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